People Underestimate the Value of a Good Ramble

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Things I Learned by Joining NaNoWriMo

This year, for the first time, I decided to join NaNoWriMo. I had no real idea what to expect, but since I love to write and I always have lots to say, it didn't seem that scary. I wasn't really sure what my novel would be about, but I decided not to take the term too literally. Maybe it wouldn't really be a novel, maybe it would just be me rambling. But at least I would be writing.

I started out well, as I'd been told would happen. People do well for the first few days and then they fall off.  Maybe they can't keep up the pace or just run out of things to say.  I wasn't sure if I could keep up the pace, but I didn't think of myself as a quitter, per se. I figured I could at least hold out a month. Plus, I knew I had lots and lots to say.

I did have my doubts about November, though, cause so many things happen in November. It's not a good month to avoid distractions. Honestly, I'm not sure there is a good month, but November is really bad, since Thanksgiving is my big holiday and it takes me a whole week to prepare, what with cleaning and shopping and cooking.  And this year I had just started my job in the middle of October so I knew I wouldn't be able to take days off. I'd need to work every day and do all that other stuff at night. 

Yep, I was a little worried. I should have been more worried.

I did pretty well for the first week, keeping to my daily goal most of the time. I even did well into the second week.  I made up for time lost on the weekend when I didn't have time to write.  But then it all started to get away from me. One day after the next day I just didn't have the time or the energy or the inspiration to write anything. At all. I lost track of the story I was writing and I would just end up going in a completely different direction.  Overall, I think I ended up with about five completely unrelated stories and around 12,000 words.

So although I didn't make the 50,000 word goal and I didn't actually win, I don't feel like a loser either.  For one thing, NaNo taught me a few things:

  1. No matter how any words I think I have inside me, there aren't enough to write 1667 every day in a related fashion. Maybe not even every other day.
  2. All my time on Twitter may have caused me to think in short spurts.  I would have preferred long lovely run on sentences.
  3. I need a better plan. Maybe if I had gone into it with an actual idea for a novel and not just all these jumbled up thoughts in my head I would have accomplished more.
  4. Organization is a good thing. I am a fairly organized person, but I may have allowed myself a little bit too much latitude in terms of my writing schedule. 
  5. I've always thought of myself as very goal oriented and yet I didn't come close to making the goal. I'm OK with that.
  6. I'm not very competitive, but I think I already knew that. Which is probably why I'm OK with not making the goal.
  7. You need a lot of energy to write a novel.  I may be more of a short story person.
  8. Although I did go into NaNo without an actual plan, I did manage to keep coming up with new ideas to move things along. Of course, they don't all fit together yet, but some day they might.
  9. I don't perform well without sleep, even if I have had lots of coffee.
  10. I will participate in NaNo again, cause overall the experience was fun and enlightening.
NaNo is over for this year, and although I didn't make the goal, I did achieve something.  I didn't write as much as I planned to and I didn't write every day, but I did write. I have thousands of words now that I didn't have in October. So far they don't make up anything great, but I believe there may be something in there that could turn into something else. And it might even be worth reading.

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